August 5, 2021

Online etiquette to teach your kids – Part 1

First came table manners, now it's online manners

First came table manners, now it's online manners (Photo: Katie Lear)

First came table manners, now it’s online manners – Chelsea Clark seeks expert advice on how to teach your child digital etiquette. Like it or not, your kids are part of the digital world. The internet, mobile phones, emails and, of course, Facebook, all form integral parts of their 21st-century daily lives. And not just for socialising either. School teachers now post homework assignments online and the internet is used as much for work as it is for play.

We need etiquette online

But the age of the internet has brought with it a whole set of new ‘cyber rules’ – and the dos and don’ts of emails, Facebook-ing, and even how to use a mobile phone. So, just as we teach our kids manners for the real world, there are a number of important things that they should know about communicating in the online world. “In the same way we need etiquette in order to preserve civility in the real world, we need etiquette online,” advises digital expert Mark
Pesce, from the University of Sydney’s Digital Cultures Program.

But don’t worry, no-one is expecting you to be an expert in the ins and outs of ‘netiquette’ (online etiquette) when
you’ve only just got your head around the difference between Facebook and Twitter.
“Not all the rules have been written yet,” says Dr Milissa Deitz who teaches media and communications at the University of Western Sydney. “However, there are two things that should always be considered – respect for others and context.” We quizzed these Australian experts about what your children need to know when it etiquette online.

Watch their time management


If your kids spend more time online than not, it’s definitely time to take stock of exactly how long they’re on the computer and what they are doing. Set rules about how long they are allowed to be online each day – including homework time. And don’t give in. If they have spent all of their allocated 30 minutes surfing Facebook instead of doing their homework, then let them face the consequences at school, instead of caving in and allowing them extra time.

WHO ARE THEY SPEAKING TO? Just as you wouldn’t allow your children to speak in slang, it’s vital to stress the importance of proper language when they are communicating online. Acronyms in an email to their school teacher are not okay.

Read part 2 here.

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